Citation

The Question of the Question: the Role of Ballot-Box Questions in Independence Referenda

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Abstract:

While a lot of ink has been spilled on independence referenda in recent decades, individual characteristics of referenda have seldom been the focus of research in comparative politics. In my paper I look at the role of ballot-box questions, specifically on the notion of independence in the 2014 Scottish case, and in the 1995 Quebec referendum, but more broadly on the debate in each case. While recent literature argues that the question has no effect/importance in independence referenda (Rocher & Lecours, 2018), in my paper through discourse analysis on a wide number of speeches given by leaders of each camp in the two referenda I look for evidence on the discursive role of the question in the two debates – if it distracts from touching on policies, identity etc and if at all shapes the meaning of independence presented in the two referendum questions that voters ultimately voted on.

I conclude that while the academic literature may agree/propose that the question does not matter (by comparison with other factors), politically however it is a very important and useful tool instrumentalized by whichever campaign can benefit from using it to score media attention, derail the debate from the messages of their opponents, or persuade/dissuade voters. As such it should not be discredited as less important, since a lot of time was spent decrying the long, unclear question in the 1995 referendum in Quebec, as well as negotiating and approving a short, clear question in the more recent attempt in Scotland.
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Association:
Name: Northeastern Political Science Association
URL:
http://www.northeasternpsa.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1426270_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Sotiriu, Sabrina. "The Question of the Question: the Role of Ballot-Box Questions in Independence Referenda" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association, Jan 08, 2018 <Not Available>. 2018-08-29 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1426270_index.html>

APA Citation:

Sotiriu, S. E. , 2018-01-08 "The Question of the Question: the Role of Ballot-Box Questions in Independence Referenda" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association <Not Available>. 2018-08-29 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1426270_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: While a lot of ink has been spilled on independence referenda in recent decades, individual characteristics of referenda have seldom been the focus of research in comparative politics. In my paper I look at the role of ballot-box questions, specifically on the notion of independence in the 2014 Scottish case, and in the 1995 Quebec referendum, but more broadly on the debate in each case. While recent literature argues that the question has no effect/importance in independence referenda (Rocher & Lecours, 2018), in my paper through discourse analysis on a wide number of speeches given by leaders of each camp in the two referenda I look for evidence on the discursive role of the question in the two debates – if it distracts from touching on policies, identity etc and if at all shapes the meaning of independence presented in the two referendum questions that voters ultimately voted on.

I conclude that while the academic literature may agree/propose that the question does not matter (by comparison with other factors), politically however it is a very important and useful tool instrumentalized by whichever campaign can benefit from using it to score media attention, derail the debate from the messages of their opponents, or persuade/dissuade voters. As such it should not be discredited as less important, since a lot of time was spent decrying the long, unclear question in the 1995 referendum in Quebec, as well as negotiating and approving a short, clear question in the more recent attempt in Scotland.


 
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